«The word holistic refers to something that emphasizes the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. It has different applications in several disciplines and it can be related with the more common used concept of interdisciplinary, that is, the claim that most social and economic phenomena, namely, can not be full understood or explained without undertaken an approach that goes far behind the aim of a single scientific discipline.
The first contributes to this concept were produced by Walter Hunziker and Kurt Krapf, in 1942. They reject looking to tourism just as an economic phenomenon. Instead, they approach it as a human and economic activity and a composite phenomenon (Williams, 2004).
Another contribution came from Neil Leiper. Leiper (1979) advocated a systems approach towards tourism. Only following such kind of approach one could fully understand destinations, generating areas, transit zones, the environment and tourism flows, he claimed.
In the present century, Lew (2001) was among those that have reinforced the importance of developing holistic and applied approaches to the research conducted on tourism.
Tourism is an activity that, besides being an economic and social phenomenon, has a spatial expression. All this gives to it a particular complexity, so, interdisciplinary approaches have special reasons to be followed. Furthermore, tourism planning and management should take into account all its impacts as the industry interacts with and appeals to the contribution of a whole set of activities present in the territories.
Current research in tourism, mostly in the case of the tourism of experiences, has claimed the need of following holistic approaches. In most cases, studies have privileged the sense of vision instead of all the five senses that would allow tourists to get an intensive global experience of the destination components. This relates also with tourism destination competitiveness, as it arises from many factors, which include, among others, natural environment, climate, man-made attractions, tourism infra-structures and supporting facilities and geographical location.
Previously, Murphy (1985) underlined the need of a more comprehensive and integrated approach to tourism planning at local level. This was highlighted taking into account the community approach, which relates with the idea that, if people have to live with the authorities’ decisions, they must be demanded to take part on the formulation of the policies and on their application. Residents are an integral part of the attractiveness of a destination.
Sustainable tourism development only can be well succeed if the destination is able to supply a tourist product that can be preserved and renewed in its singularity and if the interests of the different stakeholders are considered.
Authors like Butler (1999) have claimed that the concept of sustainable development is, itself, holistic and multi-sectorial. It can be looked as pointing to forms of tourism that are "green" or "alternative". However, the concept has been used more in theoretical than empirical terms due to the difficulty of its implementation.
Sustainable tourism development requires that researchers go on looking, both, to get a broader understanding of tourism and made use of a variety of research tools, of quantitative and qualitative nature, that allow them to improve the rigor of the analysis.
Headwords: Community development; Tourism development; Tourism management; Tourism planning; Sustainable tourism.
1999 Sustainable tourism: a state-of-the-art review. Tourism Geographies 1(1):7-25.
1979 The framework of tourism: towards a definition of tourism, tourist, and the tourism industry. Annals of Tourism Research 6(4): 390-407.
2001 Defining a geography of tourism. Tourism Geographies 3(1):105-114.
1985 Tourism. A community approach, vol. 4. London: Metheun Inc.
2004 Tourism: The nature and structure of tourism. London: Routledge.»
Paula Cristina Remoaldo
University of Minho, Portugal
José Cadima Ribeiro
University of Minho, Portugal